Hello from the bottom (or more truthfully, from somewhere in the middle) of the samples pile. This is the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles of wine that have crossed my doorstep recently.
This week seems to be the all-California week for wine samples, with a few favorite brands showing up this week. The Arista and Dutton Goldfield Pinots are always a good bet for quality and reasonable prices (as far as California Pinot Noir goes — it’s all relative).
When it comes to white, Macrostie is as sure bet as you can find in California for Chardonnay these days, especially if you don’t like them tasting of pineapple dipped in melted butter and whiskey.
I’m unfamiliar with the Purlieu brand, but this is now the second bottle I’ve gotten from them, and the wines seem to be pretty solid.
And finally, it’s fairly hard to go wrong with the wines of Dry Creek Vineyard, as their Heritage Zinfandel shows this week.
2010 Macrostie Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of asian pears and a hint of melted butter. In the mouth bright flavors of asian pear, roasted nuts, toasted bread and lemon curd have a bright juiciness, even as a bee pollen bitterness adds a more savory note through the finish. The oak used is quite restrained, and the wine is nicely balanced and crisp. Score: around 9. Cost: $19. click to buy.
2009 Purlieu Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of dried cherries, leather, tobacco and cocoa powder. In the mouth the wine has a light sweetness to it, with bright cherry fruit, juicy thanks to good acidity. Chocolate and tobacco notes meld with the cherry, and espresso emerges on the finish. The tannins are plush and fine grained. Score: around 9. Cost: $80. click to buy.
2010 Baxter “Signal Ridge Vineyard” Rosé of Pinot Noir, Mendocino Ridge, Mendocino, California
Palest pink with a distinctly orange cast to it, this wine smells of wet leaves, orange peel, and watermelon. In the mouth tangy sour cherry and orange peel notes have a zippy brightness to them thanks to fantastic acidity. Savory notes of wet leaves and herbs linger with the fruit in the finish. Lean and quite “unfruity” in a wonderful way, this is a pleasure to drink. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2008 Trione Vineyards & Winery “Geyserville Ranch” Red Blend, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry fruit. In the mouth, smooth and slightly sweet cherry and black cherry flavors mix with cola and cocoa powder for a quite seamless and juicy package. Velvety tannins hang in the background. A very crowd pleasing wine, this is a bit too sweet for my tastes, but it’s hard to deny its overall quality and balance. Good acidity. A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 11% Petite Verdot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Malbec. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2009 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of lush cranberry and cherry compote. In the mouth, cherry and cranberry flavors are dusted with faint tannins and wrapped around a core of cedar and cinnamon bark. Earthy notes lean into the wine’s finish, but the dark fruit is dominant here. Pretty, but a bit rich. Good acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5 and 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2010 Arista “Longbow” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of black raspberry, earth, and dark cherry fruit.In the mouth black raspberry and cherry flavors mix on a bed of velvety tannins with notes of brown sugar, cedar, and dried herbs. Somewhat riper than I’d like, but pretty. Good acidity, but a hint of alcoholic heat creeps into the finish. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2010 Dry Creek Vineyard “Heritage” Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry pie and wet earth. In the mouth darker wet earth flavors mix with blackberry and black cherry fruit, plus some well worn notes of leather. Soft, supple tannins coat the mouth and add to the overall complexity. Good acidity and a long finish. A serious wine.13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2010 Clarksburg Wine Company Cabernet Franc, Clarksburg, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of Nutella, french oak, and cherry fruit. In the mouth, flavors of cocoa powder, nutella, and cherries mix with cedar and leather. Somewhat leathery tannins wrap the edges of the mouth and there’s a distinct signature of oak that is somewhat jarring, but overall the wine is quite well put together. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??. I actually can’t even find a mention of this wine on the winery’s web site. Go figure.